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Economy December 14, 2009 (Remarks as prepared for delivery) The press of Senate business keeps me from attending the climate talks in Copenhagen, and requires me to stay in Washington, DC, so I have decided to speak today from the Environment and Public Works Hearing room, and deliver the speech I would have given in Denmark. Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, has agreed to circulate my remarks among those in attendance in Copenhagen. I: INTRODUCTION: As the nations of the world meet in Copenhagen to discuss the challenge of global warming, the United States brings to these discussions a strong record of effective action, built from the ground up. Action by governors in dozens of states from coast to coast. Action by over 1000 mayors in every state of the Union. Action by the President and the Environmental Protection Agency. And action in both Houses of the United States Congress with better and better news from the Senate every day.
There are those – including my Ranking Republican Member on the
Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Inhofe, who are determined to claim that the U.S. will not take action to reduce global warming.
Sen. Inhofe, who has said that global warming is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated, says he’s going to tell the participants in the Copenhagen talks that there will not be serious action to address climate change in America. He is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts. I am here to set the record straight. America has already acted. We continue to act. And we are doing more every day.
II. STATE AND LOCAL ACTION Let’s look at my home state of California. If it were a separate country, it would be the world’s seventh or eighth largest economy. A 2006 law requires action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Last month, the California Air Resources Board produced its first cap-and-trade blueprint, which would cap global warming pollution for about 600 of the largest emitters in the state. The plan includes offsets and other measures to ensure a smooth transition to a clean energy economy. All together, 33 states – accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. population -- are embracing action as part of regional or state-based cap-and-trade emissionsreduction programs.
A new report out last week shows that these state-level actions could cut the nation’s CO2 output by 536 million metric tons by 2020. That’s the equivalent of 7 percent of our country’s greenhouse gases produced in 2005. The ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have already held six auctions for carbon allowances, and 233 power plants are buying and selling pollution permits under an existing, operating cap-and-trade program. If you look a little further to our north and west, another six states have formed the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, and are developing their own cap and trade system. In the western states, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) - comprised of seven U.S. states, including my home state of California, and four Canadian provinces -recently announced its recommendations for the design of a regional market-based cap-and-trade program. In the Southeast, Charlie Crist, the Republican governor, signed a law last year authorizing the Florida's Department of Environmental Protection to develop a cap-and-trade program for emissions from electric utilities. The actions taken by states are powerful evidence that our states are committed to participating in the clean energy transformation – and in the jobs and economic opportunities that come with it. Our nation’s cities are also taking action to cut emissions, reduce energy consumption. On October 2, the 1000th mayor signed the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to reduce his communities’ carbon emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
California is a leader in this wave of local action, too, with 135 mayors in my state taking part. In communities across the country, cities are turning their municipal fleets toward alternative fuels or hybrid power, making city buildings more sustainable, employing cleaner energy sources for power plants. In Los Angeles, Mayor Villaraigosa has set a goal of 40 percent renewable energy for the city’s water and power department by 2020, and the city aims to make its power generation entirely coal-free by then. The programs our cities are putting in place are cutting global warming pollution and boosting clean energy demand right now. These are real changes that are already underway. III. THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS ACTING Business executives from leading American companies are also demanding we take action – now -- to unleash the marketplace for clean energy technology. Last month, Dow Chemical Company's vice president for government affairs said legislation that puts a price on carbon gives companies like his predictability to invest in new technologies that otherwise would not be viable, like manufacturing solar shingles or using CO2 to create fuel with algae. The sooner we act, the better.
The Vice Chairman of GE testified before the EPW Committee that clean energy could become the dominant job creator of the 21st Century. He said, “Companies and countries that move quickly to seize that opportunity will reap the rewards going forward.”
We know that clean energy is a proven job creator.
The latest economic study at the University of California at Berkeley predicts up to 1.9 million new jobs in America from a comprehensive clean energy bill. And once again, my state is demonstrating that these jobs are real. Clean energy and energy efficiency jobs continue to be one of the bright spots in the California economy. On December 9th, the Los Angeles Times reported an analysis released by Collaborative Economics for the Next 10 organization that found green jobs increased by 5 percent -- while total jobs declined by 1 percent -- in California from January 2007 to January 2008. The study also found that between 1995 and 2008, green jobs grew at three times the rate of the overall California economy. The Pew Charitable Trust reports that 10,000 new clean energy businesses were launched in California from 1998 to 2007. During that period, clean energy investments created more than 125,000 jobs and generated jobs 15 percent faster than the California economy as a whole. These are solid, steady, good wage-paying jobs. I’m talking about manufacturing jobs for steel workers and machinists, transportation jobs for truckers and rail workers, high-tech jobs for electrical engineers and software designers. Jobs building and installing solar panels on houses here in the U.S. can’t be outsourced to other countries. We have a choice. We can create jobs here by putting in place the policies that drive innovation. That is the best way to ensure that we do not stand by and watch as
other countries create them overseas. By 2020, the global clean energy market is estimated to reach $500 billion, some two and a half times the size of the global personal computer market. A Bloomberg News report this month found that clean energy is already estimated to draw $200 billion in investments worldwide in 2010. IV. FEDERAL ACTION IS HAPPENING NOW Last week marked an important milestone in the effort to address the challenge of global warming: The EPA found that global warming presents a danger to our people and our environment. The endangerment finding that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released reflects the hard work of experts in both Republican and Democratic administrations. The Obama Administration has done the right thing for the nation, for the planet, and – if you listen to our business community -- for the economy. The endangerment finding will set the stage for EPA regulations to curb global warming pollution from vehicles, and also makes it possible to address emissions from new and expanded power plants. EPA has a crucial role to play in getting the process started. The Clean Air Act provides EPA with powerful tools for addressing greenhouse gases, and the Supreme Court found it is their responsibility. The endangerment finding itself is clear: “The Administrator finds that six greenhouse gases taken in combination endanger both the public health and the
public welfare of current and future generations.” The finding cites dangers to public health from “changes in air quality, increases in temperatures, changes in extreme weather events, increases in food- and waterborne pathogens…” Threats to public welfare include “…numerous and far-ranging risks to food production and agriculture, forestry, water resources, sea level rise and coastal areas, energy, infrastructure … and ecosystems and wildlife.” In September, EPA finalized its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, which will, for the first time, require large emitters of heat-trapping emissions to begin collecting greenhouse gas (GHG) data under a new reporting system. Following through on a plan announced in May 2009, the Obama Administration proposed rules in September that would set nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and require a nearly 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks sold in the United States by 2016. V: CONGRESS IS MOVING FORWARD And Congress has taken important steps, too. In February, we approved tens of billions of dollars for clean energy funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which included over $58 billion in funding for important clean energy priorities. The Recovery Act includes funds for hands-on training for jobs installing solar panels, maintaining electric vehicles, and researching fuel cell technologies and
putting people to work boosting the energy efficiency homes across America. Just last week, Sapphire Energy -- a San Diego company using algae to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into renewable fuels -- received more than $100 million in grants and loan guarantees through the Recovery Act. Those funds will allow Sapphire to create hundreds of jobs and expand their commercial scale facilities in New Mexico and advance their research activities in San Diego.
The House has also acted on a comprehensive plan -On June 26, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, by a vote of 219 to 212.
In June, the Senate Energy Committee passed S. 1462, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA). And on November 5, 2009: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Our bill is a road map to avoiding the most dangerous impacts of global warming, getting us off our $1 billion a day foreign oil habit, creating millions of new jobs and ensuring the United States is a leader in the clean energy economy. The Kerry Boxer bill addresses major challenges of our generation: Creating the policies that will lead to millions of new jobs here in America; Putting America back in control of our energy future; Making our nation more secure and less dependent on
foreign oil; and Protecting our children and the earth from dangerous pollution. Provisions of the Kerry-Boxer bill and the Energy Committee’s bill now will become part of a comprehensive clean energy and climate package for consideration by the full Senate. Majority Leader Reid is working with the chairmen of six committees (EPW, Energy, Commerce, Foreign Relations, Finance, and Agriculture) to craft a package for floor consideration. Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham are hard at work building the bipartisan consensus that will be needed to pass comprehensive clean energy legislation. They announced the broad parameters of their bill, and they are dedicated to getting the votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate. Senator Cantwell introduced a bill with Senator Collins, which I believe is a positive development, because the more Senators involved in discussing the issue, the better.
I was deeply moved by the recent statement of Senator Robert C. Byrd about the importance of working together to develop clean energy legislation that works for all regions of the country. “To be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem. To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.” Senator Byrd is right. We all need to stay at the table and find the answers, together. Solutions that will
benefit West Virginia. Solutions that will benefit California. Solutions that create jobs for workers across the nation and protect children from coast to coast from pollution.
The need for action is urgent. VI. THE SCIENCE IS CLEAR The world’s leading scientists continue to tell us that we must reduce carbon pollution now to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. And they continue to reaffirm those warnings despite the latest attempts by those opposed to action to undermine the public’s confidence. Just last week, a letter from 25 of America’s most preeminent scientific experts – including 8 members of the National Academy of Sciences – wrote to Congress to underscore the need for urgent action to reduce global warming pollution. Here’s what they wrote -“We would like to set the record straight. The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming.” And on Friday, December 4, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has reaffirmed the position of its Board of Directors and the leaders of 18 respected organizations, who concluded based on
multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway, and it is a growing threat to society. “The vast preponderance of evidence, based on years of research conducted by a wide array of different investigators at many institutions, clearly indicates that global climate change is real, it is caused largely by human activities, and the need to take action is urgent,” said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science. I believe the recent focus on stolen emails from a British university has further focused attention on global warming. Nothing that we have seen to date on the stolen emails contradicts the overwhelming body of scientific work, which shows that global warming caused by human activity is real and serious. The Associated Press investigation of the emails found the same thing. More than anything, the emails reflect the intensity of feelings on both sides associated with the debate between the dissenters, and the vast majority of leading experts. Unfortunately this debate got personalized by both sides. For a long time the dissenters have used emotional language to characterize the scientists and others who have called for action on global warming. Earlier this year, Senator Inhofe called business leaders who support action on climate change, “a few corporate prostitutes.” The website JunkScience.com called them “carbon criminals” and put their faces on ‘Wanted’ posters. [CHART]
Well, some scientist reacted in kind. Here’s an example. [CHART] It is unfortunate that personal animosity entered this debate, but we must listen to what the science is telling us. The science is clear, the challenge is real, and the time to act is now. A recent commentary on public radio a few days ago on the Copenhagen talks summed up the key points. Fred Fiske is a long-standing commentator with public radio. The threat posed by global warming is serious – “rising sea levels, drought, disease, collapsing agriculture, and mass population migrations” are just some of what we are facing if we do not act. American business leaders know we need to act now – a company like Coca Cola, which relies on reliable local supplies of clean water, “is deeply concerned with the problem of water scarcity.” And finally the urgency of action is undeniable: “Reaching consensus – nationally, regionally, and globally – will not be easy. But if we are at all concerned with the habitability of the planet which we will bequeath to future generations, we must move forward.” VII. CONCLUSION Two weeks ago, the President sent a strong signal to the world that this nation is serious about working with the international community when he proposed a U.S. target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The EPW Committee passed a 20 percent target, and the House passed a 17 percent cut, so the President’s
proposal is certainly credible and realistic, because it reflects the work of both Houses of Congress. And I was pleased to see that the President plans to be in Copenhagen this week, with nearly 100 other heads of state, to participate in the crucial final stages of the negotiations. Our nation will be a full participant in crafting a global solution to this global challenge. It is easy to say, “No.” But I believe that would be missing a huge opportunity to launch a strong economic rebound and save our planet for our children and grandchildren. We didn’t ask for this challenge. But it is here, and we have a responsibility to face it. And the best part is this: clean energy legislation will move us away from foreign oil and the billion dollars a day we pay for it, and it will lead us into a strong economic recovery and long term prosperity for our nation. ###
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